Teach Guitar  Logo
 Teaching Skills Music Skills Business Skills Aspiring Teachers New Teachers Experienced Teachers
Teaching Skills Teaching Skills > How to Teach > Theory of Learning Series > Part 6 Relative importance
Summary: Remember the basics - When new to a subject it's impossible to evaluate the relative importance of data.

Relative importance

[Last article] [Theory of Learning Index] [Next article]

When you embark upon the learning of a new subject you can find yourself in a very confusing situation. Unless you are taught the subject in a systematic way you find yourself bombarded with all kinds of new words, concepts, actions, events, names, exercises, tips and advice - the sheer volume of which is enough to make you feel that the subject must be really difficult to learn.

This is often bad enough to stop a person from teaching themselves altogether.

The problem however, is not the volume of information. The problem is that a newcomer to any subject has no way of evaluating the relative importance of data about the subject.

Lets take a random list of concepts associated with the subject of guitar playing:

Neck, fret, fingering, note, Aeolian mode, rhythm, scale of C#minor, melody, chord, music, flatted seventh interval, scale, string, harmony, modulation, chord substitution, strumming, picking, improvisation, key, guitar, music theory, technique .

Now lets see how, with hindsight, we can organise these concepts in our mind:

Neck. Fret and string are all parts of the Guitar

Melody, Harmony and Rhythym are the three main components of Music

Fingering, Picking and Strumming are three main areas of Technique.

How Notes, Chords and Scales relate to each other in Keys forms the backbone of the study of Music Theory

All these concepts could be considered pretty central to the subject no matter what style of playing we are discussing. Of the remaining concepts: modulation, chord substitution and improvisation are all general subjects relating chiefly to Jazz styles of playing and Aeolian mode, scale of C#minor and flatted seventh interval are all specific detailed elements of music which may be of interest at a more advanced level of playing.

So if we assume the viewpoint of a complete beginner wanting to learn to accompany a few pop songs on acoustic guitar we might arrange these concepts on a scale of decreasing importance as follows:

Music Theory

Neck, Fret, String, Fingering, Picking and Strumming Melody, Harmony, Rhythm
Notes, Chords, Scales and Keys
All the rest (Because at this stage they all have Zero Importance)

The main point is this: As a relatively experienced musician you have a structured appreciation of the subject that enables you to instantly decide just how important a particular concept is. Your beginner student doesn't have this advantage.

When teaching your students try to stick closely to using only concepts that have importance to them at the level at which they are right now. At all costs avoid the temptation to 'Blind your student with Science' or show off your own 'Advanced knowledge' of the subject. By avoiding all but the concepts most immediately relevant to them you quickly help them build their own structural grasp of the subject and develop a feel for the relative importance of its component parts.

[Last article] [Theory of Learning Index] [Next article]

Related Pages
.   How learning got a bad name for itself
.   Motivation Moves Mountains
.   Contact with the Subject
.   Mental Processing
.   Assimilating
.   Information Overwhelm
.   Information Retention
.   Making and Breaking habits
Products from TeachGuitar.com


TeachGuitar Forums

 -Guitarist's Dictionary
 -Resource Exchange Library
 -Guitar Teacher's Forum


 -About Us
- Contact Us
 -Nick Minnion